About 15 years ago, my mom, son and I moved to Florida. A few months after settling in to our home, two houses in the neighborhood were broken into, the only times in the 25 years of the development that this had happened. When we learned about it, my son looked at me and said “I think it’s time we got another Doberman.” We had shared our lives with several Dobermans over a number of years but the last one had died more than 10 years earlier and since that time we had several smaller dogs, none of whom would be a deterrent to someone trying to break in to your home. My mom was 88 at the time and we were concerned about her being home alone if anyone should try to break in. So we began looking for a Dobe puppy and before long we found her, an 8 week old red little girl that we named Juno. She became our faithful, loving companion and our always devoted watchdog. She grew up with my mom around and learned to be careful and extra gentle when approaching her to be petted. She clearly understood that my mom couldn’t handle being bumped or nudged firmly as she was not that steady on her feet. Junie would go on walks with me at night and I always felt safe. She watched anyone who was walking in our vicinity and would keep her eye on them until they were far enough away that she decided it was alright to turn her attention elsewhere. She loved our cats and would nudge them and lick them when she got the chance. She loved being noticed for her “tricks” and developed her own, like strutting around with a piece of napkin or paper towel in her mouth, or better yet, one of my slippers, and would carry it in her mouth, walking around wagging her little cropped tail and looking at us out of the corner of her eye, as if to say, “I’m bad, look what I’ve got!”

She developed another little trick where she would lay on her dog bed and turn her head so that she was looking at us upside down. We’d laugh and clap our hands, and call her “Upside down Junie” and she clearly loved it, and would do it over and over to get her applause.

She went to Obedience Class as a young 6 month old dog and never forgot the lessons she learned and would always respond instantly until as a very old girl she couldn’t sit comfortably anymore and we no longer asked her to. Last spring she began having some medical problems, but we were able to nurse her through them and she celebrated her 14th birthday. When she slipped on our back porch and hurt her leg, which then swelled up to nearly three times its normal size, we had to carry her outside for about a week, several times a day, and help hold her up so she could to her business. We were able to get the fluid out of her leg, and she was once again walking normally. We were relieved and grateful as we didn’t want to think about losing her. She was soon her old self, just a little slower and we hoped we’d get to her 15th birthday this spring. But in mid November she was slowing down again and we were doing everything we could to keep her going. On Thanksgiving Day, she didn’t want to eat her dinner and I sensed that the end was near, so we did everything to make her comfortable. The next morning I helped her walk out to the back porch and she stood there leaning against me a bit for quite a while just looking around her back yard, and enjoying the sunshine. The neighbor’s dogs were out and she could hear them and smell them. It seemed as if she was enjoying this routine of 14.5 years for the last time. She drank her water and did her business and came back in with me to lay down on her bed. She didn’t want to get up or go out after that, though we tried to encourage her and offered to assist her as we had before. She just wanted to lie there near us, and so we stayed close through the rest of the day. She was still aware and watching us come and go through the house. Later that evening she had stopped lifting her head to follow us with her eyes and I pulled a chair over next to her and sat there petting her and talking to her for quite some time. She seemed to slip into a peaceful sleep and was quiet and then she made a couple of odd noises and opened her mouth widely twice and then she was still. I felt her chest and her heart had stopped. I sat there for a while and let the tears fall as I petted her for the last time.

We haven’t decided yet whether to get another dog, or Dobe.  We know if we do, there will never be another Junie. She was one of a kind, a beloved companion who wanted always to please and loved her people unconditionally. We miss her every day.

— Stephanie from Gainesville, FL